Volume 43, Issue 2 (March 1998)
Criminal and Behavioral Aspects of Juvenile Sexual Homicide
This preliminary research provides a descriptive, systematic study of juvenile sexual homicide. Fourteen incarcerated juveniles, identified through a department of corrections computer search, were assessed using a structured diagnostic interview, an author-designed clinical interview, and a review of correctional files and other available records. Five of the offenders' victims survived the homicidal attack, but their cases were nevertheless included in this study as the offenders' intent was clearly to kill their victim, and the victim's survival was merely by chance. All victims were female and all offenders were male. Their crimes typically occurred in the afternoon, and involved a low-risk victim of the same race who lived in the offender's neighborhood. The sexual component of the crime consisted of vaginal rape in over one-half of the cases. Weapons, typically a knife or bludgeon, were used in all but one case. Thirteen of these youths had a prior history of violence, and twelve had previous arrests. Chaotic, abusive backgrounds and poor adjustment in school were typical for these boys. A conduct disorder diagnosis was present in twelve of the youths, and violent sexual fantasies were experienced by one-half of the sample. The findings in this study suggest that juvenile sexual murderers comprise less than 1% of juvenile murderers, and are likely to be an emotionally and behaviorally disturbed population with serious familial, academic, and environmental vulnerabilities.